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Water Use Peaks in July: 5 Tips to Smart Spraying

Posted by Sprayer Depot on Tue, Jul 08, 2014

July is Smart Irrigation MonthWhether you manage a farm, run Public Works or maintain a golf course, managing and conserving resources to improve water availability is key. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, of the 26 billion gallons of water consumed daily in the United States, approximately 7.8 billion gallons (30%), is devoted to outdoor expenditures with the majority used for irrigation. As you might have assumed, the amount of water used outdoors
peaks during the summer, particularly during the month of July.

Kings Sprayers Skid Sprayer with Manual Hose Reel

We all need to do our part to conserve and given that it is Smart Irrigation Month, an initiative dedicated to promoting efficient irrigation empowering professionals with knowledge to help save water, we at Sprayer Depot thought it was only fitting to provide a refresher with a few strategies to help you do your part to conserve this natural resource. Here’s to spraying smarter.

Off the top of your head, you might be thinking of water conservation tips like determining the amount and timing of irrigation for efficient water use. You’re right on track. Another tactic to consider is monitoring water application for crop needs and soil moisture content. Take a look at the five tips below to ensure you spray smarter during Smart Irrigation Month: 

  • Consider soil type. Type of soil determines how quickly water can be absorbed without runoff. Watering more than soil can absorb causes runoff and waste. Light sandy soils hold less water than heavy clay soils.
  • Water only when needed. Saturate root zones and let the soil dry. Watering too much and too frequently results in shallow roots, weed growth, disease and fungus. Learn your crop’s water requirements by determining how much water the crop has used, then on the next irrigation only water long enough to replace that amount of moisture.
  • Water at the best time. Watering during the heat of the day may cause losses of up to 30 percent due to evaporation. Prevent water loss by watering when the sun is low or down, winds are calm and temperatures are cool – typically between the evening and early morning.
  • Water more often for shorter periods. For example, watering for three, 5-minute intervals let soil absorb more water than watering for 15 minutes at one time, reducing runoff.
  • Adapt watering to the season. Adjust the watering schedule regularly based on seasonal weather conditions. These vary by state and region. For example, many utilities rely on stored water from winter snowpack that gradually releases water from the melting snow during spring and summer. And the monsoon season in the Southwestern United States causes flash flooding during the summer season, effecting crops and landscapes alike.

In addition to these strategies to conserve water, you should also inspect your sprayer equipment to ensure it is in proper working order, free of leaks. Read our recent post on sprayer pump repair kits and routine maintenance if you haven’t already conducted your seasonal sprayer inspection.

Smart Irrigation Month is an initiative of the Irrigation Association, a non-profit industry organization dedicated to promoting efficient irrigation.

Topics: Sprayer Depot, custom build sprayer, lawn sprayer, public works, sprayers, sprayer, landscaper, golf course maintenance, golf course sprayers, Athletic Field Sprayers, spray tips, Ag Sprayers, Golf course equipment, fairway sprayer, sprayer checklist, smart irrigation, sprayer equipment, water conservation tips, Smart Irrigation Month, conservation, spray smarter

Still time for sprayer calibration

Posted by Sprayer Depot on Mon, Jun 09, 2014

Reprinted from OhioAg.net

 

With planting delays in some areas due to wet conditions, growers still have time to fine-tune and calibrate their sprayers to save money and protect the environment, according to an engineer from Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

Sprayers can make a big difference for growers’ pocketbooks and the environment, said Erdal Ozkan, an agricultural engineering professor and spray technology expert with Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC).

Kings 4 Wheel Sprayer

OSU Extension and OARDC are the outreach and research arms, respectively, of the college.

“With the high cost of pesticides and fertilizers, growers who want to save money and spray chemicals as efficiently as possible need to make sure they fine-tune and calibrate their sprayers to work as accurately as possible, and get the job done with less use of chemical inputs,” Ozkan said.

The costs of those wasted chemicals can be high.

Farmers spend approximately $4.1 billion on pesticides annually, according to published reports. National surveys of field application results have shown that only about one out of three sprayers are applying pesticides at the recommended rates, while two-thirds are missing the mark by either over- or underspraying, Ozkan said.

“In Ohio and other states, if we use an error margin of plus or minus 5 percent as the yard stick, nearly 50 percent of growers fail to get to that error margin,” he said. “If the intended rate and actual rate is different than that, then growers need to recalibrate their sprayer.”

Of the 50 percent of growers who fail to obtain the 5 percent margin error, nearly half of them are over-applying their chemicals at an average rate of 23 percent, Ozkan said.

“For example, if a grower has a $10,000 budget for chemical pesticides, and they happen to be in the group over-applying by 23 percent, that means they are throwing away at least $2,300 alone in that error,” he said. “And if they aren’t applying the right amount of chemicals, which could result in a larger economic impact because the chemicals may not work, the grower may have to reapply and their crops could suffer from yield loss.”

Tips for fine-tuning sprayers include:

  • Double-check your sprayer for mechanical problems before you start using it. You won’t have time to do this when planting is in full swing.

  • Clean the sprayer tank thoroughly, and make sure nozzle filters are clean.

  • Clean spray nozzles, check their flow rates, and replace the ones that are spraying more than 10 percent of the original output.

  • Check the agitator in the tank to make sure it’s working properly.

  • Run water through the spray system to make sure everything is working properly.

  • Find out if the sprayer is delivering the proper application rate (gallons per acre).

While there are multiple ways to calibrate a sprayer, Ozkan said, growers should always measure the travel speed, measure the flow rate of the nozzle to ensure correct operating pressure, and check the system’s pressure gauge.

The following is typically the easiest way to calibrate for broadcast application that doesn’t require complicated calculations, he said:

1. Fill the sprayer tank with water.

2. Run the sprayer, inspect it for leaks, and make sure all vital parts function properly.

3. Measure the distance in inches between the nozzles. Then measure an appropriate distance in the field based on this nozzle spacing.

4. Drive through the measured distance in the field at your normal spraying speed and record the travel time in seconds. Repeat this procedure and average the two measurements.

5. With the sprayer parked, run the sprayer at the same pressure level and catch the output from each nozzle in a measuring jar for the travel time required in Step 4.

6. Calculate the average nozzle output by adding the individual outputs and then dividing by the number of nozzles tested. If an individual sample collected is more than 10 percent higher or lower than the average nozzle output rate, check for clogs and clean the tip, or replace the nozzle.

7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 until the variation in discharge rate for all nozzles is within 10 percent of the average.

8. Then, the final average output in ounces is equal to the application rate in gallons per acre: Average output (ounces) = Application rate (GPA).

9. Compare the actual application rate with the recommended or intended rate. If the actual rate is more than 5 percent higher or lower than the recommended or intended rate, you must make adjustments.

10. You can start the adjustments by changing the pressure. Lowering the spray pressure will reduce the spray delivered; higher pressure means more spray is delivered. Don’t vary from the pressure range recommended for the nozzles that you use.

11. You also can correct the application error by changing the actual travel speed. Slower speeds mean more spray is delivered; faster speeds mean less spray is delivered.

12. If these changes don’t bring the application rate to the desired rate, then you may have to select a new set of nozzles with smaller or larger orifices.

13. Recalibrate the sprayer (repeat steps 5 through 12) after any adjustment.

For more information on sprayer calibration, see ohioline.osu.edu/aex-fact/0520.html.

 

Topics: Sprayer Depot, Sprayer Calibration, Ag Sprayers, Chemical Sprayers

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